The Mariners traded their starting third baseman this afternoon, sending Eugenio Suárez to the Diamondbacks for reliever Carlos Vargas and catcher Seby Zavala. That leaves a few paths that Seattle could explore at the hot corner.
Internally, it seems recent trade acquisition Luis Urías has the upper hand on the job. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (X link) and Daniel Kramer of MLB.com each report that Seattle is likely to give Urías the third base job.
That’s a risky play for a team that expects to contend in 2024. The right-handed hitting Urías is coming off a disappointing season. He had hit only .145/.299/.236 in 20 MLB games for the Brewers early in the ’23 season, spending a good portion of the year on optional assignment to Triple-A. Milwaukee moved on at the trade deadline, sending him to the Red Sox. Urías’ production was improved but still pedestrian in Boston, where he hit .225/.361/.337 over 32 contests.
It was essentially a replacement level showing overall. Urías looked like a roughly average regular over the preceding two seasons in Milwaukee. He had hit .244/.340/.426 in a little over 1000 plate appearances between 2021-22. He combined for 39 home runs with a strong 10.8% walk rate and standard 20.6% strikeout percentage.
The M’s clearly believe that he’ll bounce back from his 2023 season. Seattle dealt reliever Isaiah Campbell to Boston for Urías, who had seemed a non-tender candidate before that trade. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz forecasts him for a salary in the $4.7MM range for his penultimate arbitration season. While hardly an overwhelming sum, it’s not an entirely insignificant amount for a player who had fallen down the infield depth charts in Milwaukee and, to a lesser extent, Boston.
With four months remaining in the offseason, there’s obviously plenty of time for the Seattle front office to bring in another option. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi floated the possibility of a run at free agent Jeimer Candelario, although it’s not clear if that’s something the Mariners are actually considering. The switch-hitting Candelario is coming off a far better offensive showing than Urías is. Between the Nationals and Cubs, he ran a .251/.336/.471 batting line with 22 homers in 576 plate appearances.
There’d be a viable roster fit for Candelario even if the Mariners wanted Urías to play every day. The latter has plenty of second base experience in his big league tenure. Seattle has a few options at the keystone…